Today, digital transformation is mainstream, and every company is a software company. Application Security (AppSec) teams are responsible for the practices and measures needed to protect software applications from various threats and vulnerabilities, like unauthorized access, data breaches, and code exploits – and are expected to do this without slowing down the business. But the threat landscape has grown exponentially, and the attack surface has become unmanageable for security teams.
In an effort to address these issues, organizations shifted security left, asking developers to fix security flaws earlier in the software development life cycle where defects are less costly to remediate. All too often, however, shifting left went too far and didn’t consider the increased burden placed on developers who were now responsible not only for new feature development but security workflows too. The end result: developers’ ability to innovate slowed dramatically, which in turn impacted the business.
The Digital Transformation Ripple Effects
Digital transformation has had many ripple effects. With the move to the cloud, applications now run on modern, dynamic, and ephemeral software infrastructure. This has shifted responsibility away from traditional IT operations onto development teams. The rise of DevOps practices means that organizations are shipping more code than ever at lightning pace. Much of this code is based on open source libraries or is AI-generated, both of which increase risk to the business. Suddenly security teams are responsible for software supply chain security in addition to all the other demands placed on them.
The impact of digital transformation is that security teams are now racing to keep up. Pain points continue to grow and worsen, yet security teams have limited time to reduce risk, and even less time to focus on their security strategy.
Currently, security teams are faced with unmanageable, ever-growing attack surfaces as malicious actors find novel ways to exploit vulnerabilities. In an attempt to combat this, security teams have adopted numerous tools, which has resulted in tool sprawl. This in turn has led to too many security and developer teams working in silos, negatively impacting their relationship and reducing collaboration between teams.
Further straining the security-development relationship, many organizations went too far in their attempts to shift left. Instead of streamlining processes, shifting left placed too much burden on developers without giving them the tools to succeed. This slowed down developers, who were still expected to release new innovative features at the same pace.
The combination of unmanageable attack surfaces, too many tools, security and devs working in silos, and the need for the business to innovate fast has created a perfect storm. We call this gap AppSec Chaos.
One of the most problematic aspects of AppSec chaos is alert fatigue. The sheer volume of alerts has become unwieldy. When everything is on fire, it’s hard to know where to point the hose. Security teams are struggling with what to remediate first and have missed critical risks as a result. At the same time, innovation has slowed, further straining the relationship between developers and security teams.
Despite the chaos, the business expectation is to keep growing and innovating even while increased regulations around data privacy and compliance continue to increase pressure on everyone. It has become clear that security teams must address insufficient security policies, inadequate testing and monitoring, and the inability to quickly address security vulnerabilities if they are to continue to ship secure software.
Though the situation between security and developer teams seems dire, a path forward does exist.
5 Steps to Overcome the AppSec Chaos
AppSec chaos doesn’t have to take down security and developer teams, but it does require a shift in behavior and the adoption of a new type of AppSec platform.
A complete Application Security Posture Management (ASPM) platform helps consolidate tools, provides visibility into vulnerabilities across your SDLC, prioritizes the most severe risks, and enables fast remediation.
An ASPM solution also allows organizations to take a more balanced approach to vulnerability remediation – called controlled shift left. Controlled shift left leverages the right tools to ensure effective vulnerability management without overwhelming developers. With this approach, ASPM facilitates security and developer teams working together collaboratively so business can continue to innovate at the speed of DevOps.
Follow these 5 steps to deliver software fast without compromising on security:
- AppSec is a team sport. Success isn’t about dumping 100% of the security burden on developers, inundating them with vulnerabilities. Security and developer teams need a balance. Bringing these teams closer together means: (1) Providing security teams with the visibility they need to eliminate blind spots, and (2) Not slowing down developers by giving them a self-serve way to manage security issues. This creates a circle of trust between security and developer teams, and allows them to focus on the 1% of critical vulnerabilities and proactively eliminate risk to keep innovating at high velocity.
- Controlled shift left. This more balanced approach to shift left emphasizes early security considerations without overwhelming developers, ensuring genuine threats are promptly addressed. By employing a methodical approach and leveraging the right ASPM tools, such as Cycode, shifting left can be executed with precision, ensuring effective vulnerability management without overwhelming developers.
Read more about how to achieve Controlled Shift Left, here.
- Assessment and audit. Conduct a thorough security assessment and audit to identify threats to your applications. Audits can include adherence to common frameworks like SSDF, GDPR, SOC 2, and ISO27001. By proactively identifying vulnerabilities, weaknesses, and potential risks, you can remediate any vulnerabilities before an attacker is able to exploit them.
Read more about how Cycode can help with compliance, here.
- Automated security policies. The right ASPM platform enables you to establish clear and comprehensive security policies and guidelines for your organization. Ensure that these policies cover areas like data protection, access control, authentication and secure coding practices.
- Training and awareness. Security training and awareness programs are essential for the success of your development and IT teams. Be sure to include secure coding best practices as part of your program. Everyone involved in the development and maintenance of applications needs to understand security best practices to deliver secure software.
Stop AppSec chaos before it becomes a blocker for innovation. You can ship code fast while still ensuring the highest security standards for your organization. Start by following the tips above, and then learn more about Cycode’s complete, flexible, and open ASPM platform. Book a demo now to find out how we can help you achieve faster time to value, reduce critical vulnerabilities, and remediate faster.